The Road Ahead : December 2012
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 64 THE ROAD AHEAD DEC 2012/JAN 2013 MOTORING IN THE SHOWROOM THE GERMAN CARMAKER LAUNCHES INTO THE SUB-LIGHT SEGMENT The design brief for Volkswagen's oddly-named up!, the company's first sub-light segment entry, was straightfor ward -- make it simple, functional and provide the maximum usable space on the minimum footprint. The end result is a four-seat hatch that is about half a metre shorter than its sibling, Polo, but with a similar wheelbase. Standard equipment is a bit sparse, but this can be addressed with option packs. For $600, the Comfort Drive pack adds cruise control, multi-function display and rear parking sensors. The Comfort Style package at $2500 includes alloys, front fog lights, leather/leatherette trimmings and heated front seats. Maps + More offers navigation, media player, bluetooth and vehicle information display for $500. up! comes in one spec, with a 1.0-litre engine, and only a five-speed manual gearbox, which may somewhat limit its appeal. It has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, dual front and side/head airbags, ESC and ABS. And VW LOOKS UP! in a first for this price range, City Emergency Braking, a system that detects vehicles and objects up to 10 metres ahead and will apply the brakes if the driver takes no action, is standard. When it comes to refinement and performance, up! isn't in the Polo or Golf class, but is clearly a step above its obvious competitors. Build quality is good, performance is quite reasonable and handling and dynamics offer hints to its Volkswagen pedigree. It's even fairly quiet inside. Manufacturer's List Prices start at $13,990 for the 3-door (pictured) and $14,990 for the 5-door. cherokee muscles up By Jeep's own admission, its high- performance Grand Cherokee SRT8 is over the top. Its thumping Hemi V8 has grown to 6.4 litres, power and torque are up by 10 percent to 344 kW and 624 Nm, and it goes from 0 to 100 km/h in less than five seconds. Inside, the usual wood trim has been replaced with carbon fibre, the front seats are SRT-styled with leather trim and heating and cooling, and there is SRT badging. Exterior styling is aggressive and sporty. Underneath are 20" alloys, an active adaptive damping system with Bilstein shocks, lowered suspension and special steering calibration. Brakes are by Brembo, and drive is through a five-speed auto transmission with paddle shifters and Jeep's trademark Quadra-Trac AWD system. Only about 1000 units are destined for Australia each year, so if you want one, get to your local Jeep dealer now. But the best bit is the price: $76,000. passat goes alltrack Volkswagen chose a mix of bitumen and gravel roads through the Adelaide Hills to showcase the capability of its new Passat Alltrack. Almost the same length as the Passat wagon, the Alltrack's ground clearance has been heightened to 165 mm, along with increases to the front approach angle (13.5 to 16 degrees) and the rear departure angle (11.9 to 13.6 degrees). An off-road driving mode and steel underbody protection further reinforce its credentials away from the black-top. Under the bonnet is a 125 kW, 350 Nm TDI engine and six-speed, dual-clutch transmission driving through VW's 4MOTION all-wheel drive. Combined fuel cycle of the turbo-diesel four is 6.3 litres/100 km. Cargo capacity is 588 litres with the rear seats up, and 1716 litres with the rear seats folded. Passat Alltrack is priced from $47,790. ^PRICES ARE MANUFACTURERS' LIST PRICES AND DO NOT INCLUDE STATUTORY AND DELIVERY CHARGES. mx-5 revamp Mazda has updated its popular MX-5 open-top sports car with some subtle tweaking of exterior styling and mechanicals. A newly-designed front bumper design gives the MX-5 a more aggressive look and a larger front grille offers a sense of depth, while a redesign of the front fog lamp bezel and chin spoiler complete the new look. Adjustment to the throttle management program in manual models has been made for more response when accelerating out of corners, along with updates to the brake booster to help control front and rear load distribution. There are two grades: Roadster Coupe and the Roadster Coupe Sports, both available with a choice of a six- speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission but with folding hard top only, after the soft top was dropped from the range. Prices start at $47,280.